Park Highlight: Settlers Bay Coastal Park

Settlers Bay Coastal Park

Have you visited the Mat-Su Borough’s newest park yet? With stunning views of Knik Arm available from the viewing platform on the bluff and an extensive network of trails that traverse 295 acres of beautiful mixed conifers and deciduous forest, Settlers Bay Coastal Park is not to be missed. 

Amenities: There are trail options for everyone at Settlers Bay Coastal Park including Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant trails, mountain biking single track trails, and an expansive network of hiking trails.  Along the ADA trail, you’ll find benches to sit and take in the incredible views. Pit toilets are located at each of the trailhead parking areas.  You will find spectacular interpretive panels describing the local flora and fauna and the names of the peaks visible from the bluff.  Wildlife and place names are provided in English and Upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina. 

History: This project was made possible through immense community support.  The trails at Settlers Bay Coastal Park are part of 295 acres of land that was donated to the Mat-Su Borough by the Great Land Trust as a conservation easement.   In 2013, the owners of Settlers Bay Golf Course reached out to Great Land Trust about conserving some of their undeveloped property in the Settlers Bay Community.  Truly a work in collaboration, Great Land Trust partnered with the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, ConocoPhillips, Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, Settlers Bay Golf Course, LLC, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and over 70 individual private donors to purchase the land. The first formal trails were built during summer 2019, and trails and amenities have been continually added over the years since. In addition to helping fund the initial land acquisition in 2017, Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation helped to acquire land in 2023 that doubled the acreage to the park. MSTPF also provided funding for the construction of the West lot parking area as well as other general trail and park improvements, including work on the various bike trails and ADA bluff trail.

Impact:  The development of Settlers Bay Coastal Park creates a non-motorized nature-based recreation area, while conserving the vital wildlife habitat and coastal wetlands adjacent to the Palmer Hayflats State Game Refuge.  This park represents a successful collaboration to both protect, and provide access to this unique area. The Settlers Bay Coastal Park is now owned and managed by the Mat-Su Borough and Great Land Trust, which “holds a conservation easement on the property to ensure its open space and habitats are protected and conservation values are upheld in perpetuity.”  

Along with an expansive network of community collaborators, MSTPF has been a continued supporter of Settlers Bay Coastal Park since 2016.  Thanks to community donors like YOU, we’ve been able to fund these projects at Settlers Bay Coastal Park:

  • $50,000 grant in 2024 to the Mat-Su Borough for improvements to the parking lot and park amenities
  • $35,000 grant during 2022-2023 to Great Land Trust to acquire additional land acreage 
  • $20,000 grant in 2021 to Mat-Su Borough for trails and park improvements 
  • $30,000 grant during 2020-2021 to the Student Conservation Association to work on trails across the Mat-Su, including Settlers Bay Coastal Park
  • $100,00 grant in 2018 to Mat-Su Borough for trail and park improvements
  • $30,000 grant in 2017 to Great Land Trust for initial land acquisition 
  • $10,000 grant in 2016 to Great Land Trust for park planning

Know Before You Go: Settlers Bay Coastal Park is accessible by two major trailhead parking areas: an East lot and a West lot.  To most easily access the ADA bluff trail nearest the viewing platform, park at the West lot.

Getting There: From Anchorage, travel north on the Glenn Highway (Hwy 1) to the Parks Highway (Hwy 3). Exit west (left) off the Parks Highway to the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. After approximately 1.3 miles, take a left on Knik-Goose Bay Road. Continue on Knik-Goose Bay Road approximately 7.5 miles and turn left onto Settlers Bay Drive.

To access the East Parking Lot, after turning onto Settlers Bay Drive from Knik-Goose Bay Road, continue for approximately 0.5 miles. Take the first left onto the northern portion of Settlers Bay Drive and continue for approximately one mile to the end of the developed road, which is just past Frontier Drive. Drive through the gate and park in the parking lot on the right. Continue on the trails from here. Google Map Link

To access the West Parking Lot, continue on Settlers Bay Drive south, then east to the terminus of the road which leads through a gate into the parking area; approximately 2 miles. Google Map Link

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